Police officials feed cows shifted to the cow shelter in Alwar.

Police officials feed cows shifted to the cow shelter in Alwar. (HT Photo)

For the last 10 days, Rajasthan dairy farmer Subba Khan has been running from pillar to post to get back 51 of his cows allegedly “snatched away” from his family and sent to a gaushala (cow shelter) in Alwar district. Police took away the cows, apparently to prevent a “law and order” problem, but the family is blaming it on cow vilgilantes.

Khan’s wife Baseri said she had taken the cattle out for grazing on October 3 near their village, Sahubas, when some youngsters from adjoining Kankra village tried to take away the cows.

“They said we were cow smugglers. When I tried to intervene, they pushed me. The police were present, but they were mere spectators. Later, with the help of the police, the cows were taken to Shri Krishna Gaushala in Bambora Ghati by the cow vigilantes,” Baseri said on Sunday.

A family member of Subba Khan feeds a calf after the animal’s mother was shifted to a cow shelter in Alwar. (HT Photo)

Khan’s family belongs to the Meo community and their village is in Kishangarh Bas, 51 km from Alwar. Around six months ago, dairy farmer, Pehlu Khan, who too belonged to the Meo community, was beaten up in Alwar by cow vigilantes over suspicion of smuggling cows. He later died in hospital.

“Our family rears cattle. We have been selling cow and goat milk for years. We earn between ₹2,000 and ₹3,000 every day. Now, it has stopped and we are suddenly left with no means to support our lives. My husband is knocking on every door possible, but it seems that nobody is ready to listen to us,” she added.

HT failed to contact Khan, who doesn’t own a phone and was out of his home trying to get back his cows.

Another resident of Sahubas village, Jumma (60), said, “The family doesn’t have any land for farming and their only livelihood is selling milk. They sell 80-90 litres of milk every day to the dairies. Now, there are false allegations of cow smuggling being levelled by cow vigilantes. The police have left them with nothing.”

Kishangarhbas police station SHO, Chand Singh Rathore, said, “On October 3, we got information that some villagers were obstructing the road with their cattle. To prevent any law and order situation, we acted promptly and took the cattle to the local gaushala and cleared the national highway.

Rathore added that the sub-divisional magistrate had ordered an inquiry and it was underway. “I am here at the gaushala to identify the cows claimed by Subba Khan as his. After the inquiry, we’ll be able to determine whether the cows were being taken for smuggling or they belong to Subba Khan. This area sees a lot of cow smuggling and thus we took the help of nearby villagers to carry the cattle safely to the gaushala.”

So far no FIR has been filed either by Khan or the cow vigilantes.

Shrikrishna Gupta, president of Shri Krishna Gaushala, who is also a BJP leader, said, “Policemen and some villagers brought several cows to our gaushala on October 3. Hardly 8 to 10 among those aremilch cattle, the rest of them are not in good health. In spite of staff taking good care, one cow has died. After the inquiry, if the administration orders us to give the cows back to the family, we’ll do so. But the family will have to give us compensation (₹200 per day per cow).”